Remembering the Civic Coupe
On July 17, Honda announced that the Civic Coupe would not have a future beyond the current, tenth generation. Making its debut in 1993, the Civic Coupe was Honda’s compact entry in the popular, sporty two-door segment, joining other names like the Paseo, Sentra, Neon and Beretta. Here's a list of some of the more notable versions of the beloved model from throughout the years:
Differentiated from the long-popular two-door hatchback, the Coupe instead added a separate trunk to Honda's smallest offering.
With the hatchback receiving the majority of the performance love with its Si and JDM Si-R models, the Coupe seemed to be positioned more as a fashion statement than anything else. The Civic EX model, however, did offer many of the same appointments as the Si model, including the SOHC D16Z6 VTEC engine with a whopping 125 hp.
Although the US engine offerings were not especially exciting for this generation, the interchangeability of more powerful JDM engines, as well as larger engine options from the Civic’s Integra cousin, these Civics helped to ignite tuner culture in the nineties.
For the sixth generation, the outlook for a truly sporty Civic Coupe seemed more bleak than before. While it was again offered in the usual Honda DX, LX, and EX pedestrian models, the early absence of a performance model in the US meant that an enthusiast-spec from the factory wasn’t in the cards.
The Coupe was exclusively offered in an HX economy model, however, that borrowed most of the DX trim but was powered by a VTEC-E engine that could either be paired with an early version of Honda’s CVT transmission or a 5 speed manual. The HX wheels became a popular choice for Honda tuners though, weighing in a ridiculously light 11.75 lbs a piece.
'99 Civic Si Coupe
Of course, good things come to those who wait. In 1999, Honda released the Si model, available only as a Coupe. Powered by the now legendary B16A2, this Si would come to define Honda’s mainstream FWD performance for years to come.
More than just an engine upgrade, the Si saw changes to the suspension, transmission, brakes and interior. The exterior, available in an Si exclusive Electron Blue Pearl, was actually pretty restrained, adding only a mild front spoiler, painted side skirts, Si-specific wheels, and Si badging.
The seventh generation of the Civic would once again push the Civic Coupe into also-ran status as the Si model returned to the England-made EP3 hatchback. Nevertheless, it soldiered on as a slightly sexier version of the humble Civic sedan, offering efficiency and reliability to commuters.
Eighth and Ninth Generations
After the EP3, Honda decided that the Si needed to return to the Coupe line. The eighth and ninth generation models were both given high performance versions of Honda’s K series of engines, with a 197hp 2.0L for the 2006 model, and a 201hp 2.4L coming in 2012.
With the departure of the competing Integra/RSX model from Acura, the Civic Si had freedom to employ the best 4 cylinder engines that Honda had available at the time.
Tenth (Final?) Generation
The final Civic Coupe’s story was similar to the last, serving both as a commuter and as the Si model. Powered by Honda’s 1.5L turbo four, the Civic Si makes 205hp and is routed through a six speed transmission. For the tenth generation, the Coupe was offered in an exclusive Energy Green Pearl that recalls some of the wild colors employed by the earliest Civic tuners of the nineties.
With the death the Accord Coupe in 2017, the writing was certainly on the wall for the Civic Coupe. Consumers have shown that utility is the next sexy, flocking away from the sporty coupes that defined “cool” in the latter half of the 20th century. When Honda shared the Si package with the sedan beginning in 2006, much of the incentive to opt for the Coupe was removed, especially as the aspirational Type R models utilized the hatchback and sedan body styles.
All that said, the Civic Coupe won’t fade into history that easy. An example of the EM1 Civic Si recently sold for $50,000, and non-modified driver quality versions are becoming more and more difficult to find for under $10,000.
The Civic Coupe represents a period in time that many enthusiasts look back on fondly, from the first time they saw the body-kitted neon-underglow Civic Coupes of the original Fast and the Furious, to hopes of making a sleeper out of a humble Civic HX with an elusive JDM engine. 'Til the tides turn again, we’ll pour one out for the Civic Coupe.
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